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Home > White Paper > FY2005 White Paper on Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology > Chapter1 Part3 How the Fundamental Law of Education Befitting to the New Times should be


Chapter 1 :
PROMOTING EDUCATIONAL REFORM

Part 3 How the Fundamental Law of Education Befitting to the New Times should be

1.Considering Review of the Fundamental Law of Education

The Fundamental Law of Education, which consists of 11 articles, was officially proclaimed and enforced in March 1947, establishing the basics of education in Japan after World War II. In addition to basic principles such as objectives of education, the Fundamental Law of Education established the role of equal opportunity in education, which means all people are equally provided with an opportunity to receive education according to their ability, as well as a gratuitous compulsory education.

Among the laws and ordinances related to education, such as the School Education Law and Social Education Law, the Fundamental Law of Education is the root of all educational laws. Education in Japan is modeled on the spirit of the Fundamental Law of Education. The various education systems constructed under the Fundamental Law on Education have largely improved the national education level and serve as an engine for the development of Japanese society.

However, more than half a century has passed since the Fundamental Law of Education was established. How education should be has undergone changes such as a considerable rise in the entrance ratio to high school and university, and a shift toward a lifelong learning society (Figure 1-1). In addition, along with the large changes in Japanese society and the international community, Japan is faced with various issues concerning education. Today, as drastic reforms of fundamental systems of politics, administration, justice, and the economic structure are taking place, there is a need for the fundamental reform of education as an existential foundation of society, too.

Figure 1-1 Changes in social conditions since the establishment of the Fundamental Law of Education up to the present day

Under this situation, the National Council on Educational Reform, which was established under the prime minister in March 2000, compiled the “Report by the National Council on Educational Reform-17 Proposals for Changing Education” in December of the same year and proposed the need to establish a Basic Promotional Plan for Education and to review the Fundamental Law of Education, along with 15 specific policies.

In addition, in November 2001, the Minister sought consultation from the Central Council for Education about how the Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education should be befitting to the new times. After about a year and four months of deliberations, in March 2003, the Central Council for Education submitted a report entitled “Modality of the Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education Befitting to the New Times” to the Minister.

2.The Goal of the 21st Century’s Education

The report entitled “Modality of the Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education Befitting to the New Times” indicates that Japanese society is faced with many complex situations, such as unemployment of middle and old age people and the employment issue for the young, amid weakening confidence in society, a prevailing sense of closure, weakening ethics, a decline in social vitality due to the advancement of the aging society with fewer children, and the prolonged economic stagnation. As for education, too, the report pointed out issues such as declining normative consciousness, the morals and sense of autonomy among the youth, continuing severe bullying, non-attendance at school and the dropout phenomenon, declining motivation for learning, and declining educational functions of families and communities.

In order to overcome the critical issues that Japan currently faces and realize education that is befitting to the new times, there is a need to review how education should be with today’s viewpoint from the base up in addition to continuing to advance efforts to promote specific reforms. Each person, with a sense of responsibility as a member of the state and society, and the international community, must aim to realize education for the new times by actively taking part in educational reform and promoting efforts through society as a whole. Based on the universal mission of education to realize full development of personality and foster people as members of the state and society, and in light of the tide of significant change in the new times such as the advancement of an aging society with fewer children, shift to a highly informationoriented society, transfiguration of the industrial structure, progressive globalization, development of science and technology, and global environmental problems that are becoming increasingly serious, and the transformation of national consciousness, the report points out the need for education to continue to realize the following five goals and to foster people with various personalities and specialties with aims to foster “spirited and strong Japanese people who can open up a path to the 21st century.”

  (1) Foster people who are independent-minded and seek self-actualization

(2) Foster people who are warm-hearted and enjoy a healthy body

(3) Foster people to become creative leaders of a Century of Knowledge

(4) Foster Japanese people who are civic-minded and who will actively participate in the formation of a state and society befitting the 21st century

(5) Foster Japanese people based on the traditions and culture of Japan to live in a globalized community

Considering these current issues on education and the goals of the 21st century’s education, the report proposes the following need concerning the Fundamental Law of Education:
  1) Principles of the current Fundamental Law of Education, such as “individual dignity,” “full development of personality,” and “builders of a peaceful state and society,” will need to continue to be held in high esteem as universal principles that are pursuant to the Constitution of Japan.

  2) The Fundamental Law of Education will need to be amended to clarify the concepts and principles of education that are thought to be the utmost importance from the viewpoint of fostering “spirited and strong Japanese people who can open up a path to the 21st century.”
Specific direction of amendment is indicated in the report summary below.

To achieve these goals, the report stated the need for educational reform that stretches down to the reviews of legislation on education, beginning with the Fundamental Law of Education, as well as the need for the establishment of the Basic Promotional Plan for Education that comprehensively and systematically prioritize specific policies so as to enhance the effectiveness of such reform.

3.Aiming for the New Fundamental Law of Education Befitting to the New Times

In response to the report entitled the “Modality of the Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education Befitting to the New Times,” MEXT is conducting efforts to promote national discussions related to promoting educational reform and amending the Fundamental Law of Education through various opportunities.

For example, MEXT has proactively held “Educational Reform Town Meetings” nationwide since December 2003, the theme of which is educational reform including the amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education. The Minister and experts participate in the town meetings and advance dialogue directly with participants regarding the modality of educational reform and the Fundamental Law of Education. So far, seven meetings have been held nationally, and a total of 2,299 participants have attended. At each meeting, participants enjoyed lively discussions with the Minster and other relevant parities, raising various opinions and questions to them. Furthermore, MEXT conducts efforts to deepen national discussions regarding the Fundamental Law of Education through various methods including the distribution of leaflets (approximately 430,000 pieces), launch of “Reference Room for the Fundamental Law of Education” (http://www. mext.go.jp/b_menu/kihon/index.htm), a website that features the Fundamental Law of Education, and opinion polls conducted via mail and e-mail.

In addition, the governing party recognizes that the amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education is an extremely important issue. Under this recognition, it established a Consultative Committee of the Governing Party concerning the Amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education and its Investigative Committee. Since May 2003, vigorous investigations have been conducted after more than 30 investigations, and the committees compiled a “Mid-term Report on Items and Contents to be Incorporated into the Fundamental Law of Education” on June 16, 2004. Vigorous investigation still continues under the governing party.

MEXT will conduct efforts to amend the Fundamental Law of Education befitting the new times based on the report by the Central Council for Education and investigations of the governing party.

▲Educational Reform Town Meeting in Shizuoka (June 11, 2005)
 
▲Top page of the Reference Room for the Fundamental Law of Education

Summary of “Modality of the Fundamental Law of Education and Basic Promotional Plan for Education Befitting to the New Times” compiled by the Central Council for Education

Chapter 1 Issues of Education and the Basic Direction of Education in the Future

1.The current situation and issue of education

?? Japanese society is facing a large crisis, namely weakening confidence, a prevailing sense of closure, loss of ethics and sense of social missions, decline in social vitality due to the advancement of an aging society with fewer children, and severe unemployment amid the prolonged economic stagnation.

Drastic reforms of politics, administration, justice, and the economic structure are necessary to recover from this crisis. A bold review/reform of education that is consistent with these reforms is necessary to realize a society that is full of creativity, vitality, and open to the world.

?? Education is facing a critical situation. Youth are finding it harder to dream. Normative consciousness, morals, and a sense of autonomy are declining. Bullying, non-attendance at school, the dropout phenomenon, and class disruptions continue to be serious. There is increased atrocious crime among youth. Educational functions of families and communities are inadequate, bringing about a challenging situation in which youth find it difficult to have love and affection with family and friends and form rich relationships with people. Motivation for learning is declining from the elementary and secondary education level through higher education levels. The issues to be tackled are to foster “Academic Ability” in elementary and secondary education and basic scholastic ability in universities and graduate schools, to foster human resources with a flexible ability to think and be creative, and to make social contribution through educational research.

?? During this past half century, Japanese society and the international community have greatly changed. National consciousness has transformed and so have the principles to be emphasized in education.

?? To overcome the confronted crisis and realize education befitting to the new times, principles to be stressed need to be clarified through the argument stretching down to the foundation of modality of education while universal principles should be maintained. Each area of education needs to be reformed based on this new basis.

2.Goal of the 21st century’s education

Education needs to continue to realize the following five goals with aims to foster “spirited and strong Japanese people who can open up a path to the 21st century.”

(1) Foster people who are independent-minded and seek self-actualization
(2) Foster people who are warm-hearted and enjoy a healthy body 
(3) Foster people to become creative leaders of the Century of Knowledge
(4) Foster Japanese people who are civic-minded and who will actively participate in the formation of a state and society befitting the 21st century
(5) Foster Japanese people based on the traditions and culture of Japan to live in a globalized world

3.Issues for realizing goals

?? Within a reform that stretches down to the reviews of legislation on education, educational systems and policies need to be reviewed. It is also necessary to advance effective reform by establishing the Basic Promotional Plan for Education that comprehensively and systematically prioritize specific policies.

?? Education is an investment for the future, and there is a need to execute necessary policy decisions without sparing investments in education.

Chapter 2 Modality of the Fundamental Law of Education Befitting to the New Times

1.The need to amend the Fundamental Law of Education and the viewpoints for amendment

The existing laws for “individual dignity,” “full development of personality,” and “builders of a peaceful state and society” will continue to be held in high esteem.

Amend the Fundamental Law of Education in order to clarify the important educational concepts and principles which are thought to be of the utmost importance, from the viewpoint of fostering “spirited and strong Japanese people who can open up a path to the 21st century.”

(1) Establishment of reliable school education
(2) Promotion of university reforms to lead the Century of Knowledge
(3) Restoration of the ability of the home to educate children and promote cooperation/collaboration of schools, homes, and communities
(4) Fostering a proactive will and attitude to participate in the public
(5) Fostering respect for Japan’s traditions and culture, love for our homeland and country, as well as the consciousness of being a member of the international community
(6) Realization of a lifelong learning society
(7) Establishment of a Basic Promotional Plan for Education

2.Specific direction of amendment

Articles of the Fundamental Law of Education Directions of amendment
 Preamble
Having established the Constitution of Japan, we have shown our resolution to contribute to the peace of the world and the welfare of humanity by building a democratic and cultural state. The realization of this ideal shall depend fundamentally on the power of education.
We shall esteem individual dignity and endeavor to bring up people who love truth and peace, while education which aims at the creation of culture, general and rich in individuality, shall be spread far and wide.
We hereby enact this Law, in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of Japan, with a view to clarifying the aim of education and establishing the foundation of education for a new Japan.

 Basic principles of education
  Article 1 (Aim of education) Education shall aim at the full development of personality, striving for the rearing of the people, sound in mind and body, who shall love truth and justice, esteem individual value, respect labor and have a deep sense of responsibility, and be imbued with the independent spirit, as builders of a peaceful state and society.
Article 2 (Educational principle) The aim of education shall be realized on all occasions and in all places. In order to achieve the aim, we shall endeavor to contribute to the creation and development of the international community of culture by mutual esteem and cooperation, respecting academic freedom, having a regard to actual life and cultivating a spontaneous spirit.
(Preamble)
In light of the importance of the Fundamental Law of Education that declares principles of education and establishes the basics of education, it is appropriate to keep the Preamble in order to clarify the purpose of the Law.
It is appropriate to continue to regulate basic ideas stipulated in the Preamble of the current Law such as the purpose of establishing the Law and the fundamentals concerning education that govern the entire Law.

(Basic principles of education)
It is appropriate to continue to state basic principles of the current Law that stipulate that education shall aim for full development of personality and seek to foster people who have healthy minds and bodies.

(New principles)
With the entire picture of the amendment of the Law, it is appropriate to concisely regulate the purpose of the new principles concerning the below items in the Preamble or in each Article.
Self-actualization of individuals and fostering individuality, ability, and creativity of individuals
Emphasize sensitivity and involvement with nature and the environment
Fostering a sense of civic-mindedness in terms of active participation in the formation of a society, morals, and autonomy
Fostering respect for Japan’s traditions and culture, love for our homeland and country, as well as the consciousness of being a member of the international community
Principles for lifelong learning
Response to changes in times and society
Clarification of the relation between occupational life and education
Contribution to a gender-equal society

 Equal Opportunity in education
  Article 3 (Equal opportunity in education) The people shall all be given equal opportunities of receiving education according to their ability, and they shall not be subject to educational discrimination on account of race, creed, sex, social status, economic position, or family origin.
(2) The state and local public bodies shall take measures to give financial assistance to those who have, in spite of their ability, difficulty in receiving education for economic reasons.

It is appropriate to continue to regulate the principle of equal education opportunity and stipulation on financial assistance.
 Compulsory education  
  Article 4 (Compulsory education) The people shall be obligated to have the boys and girls under their protection receive nine years general education.
(2) No tuition fee shall be charged for compulsory education in schools established by the state and local public bodies.

It is appropriate to continue to regulate nine years of compulsory education and the stipulation on compulsory education free of charge.
 Coeducation
  Article 5 (Coeducation) Men and women shall esteem and cooperate with each other. Coeducation, therefore, shall be recognized in education.
It is appropriate to delete the article stating that “coeducation shall be recognized” because the purpose of coeducation has been widely recognized and there are no institutional disparities for education opportunities based on sex.

 Schools, teachers
  Article 6 (School education) The schools prescribed by law shall be of public nature and, besides the state and local public bodies, only the juridical person prescribed by law shall be entitled to balance of knowledge, morals, and physical establish such schools.
(2) Teachers of the schools prescribed by law shall be servants of the whole community. They shall be conscious of their mission and endeavor to discharge their duties. For this purpose, the status of teachers shall be respected and their fair and appropriate treatment shall be secured.
(Schools)
It is appropriate to concisely regulate basic roles of schools conducting education with a good balance of knowledge, morals, and physical health according to the development stage of those receiving education as well as the roles to contribute to realizing principles of lifelong learning. In addition, it is appropriate to regulate the importance of the role of universities, graduate schools, and private schools.
It is appropriate to continue to regulate entities that may establish schools.

(Teachers)
Based on the importance of teachers in school education, it is appropriate to regulate the necessity to measure improvements in quality and the encouragement of research and training, in addition to the stipulation in the current Law.

 Home education
 
Family bears primary responsibility for child education. Based on this recognition, it is appropriate to newly regulate the role of home education.
In light of the importance of improving home education, it is appropriate to regulate the support by the state and local public bodies for home education.

 Social education
  Article 7 (Social education) The state and local public bodies shall encourage home education and education carried out in places of work or elsewhere in society.
(2) The state and local public bodies shall endeavor to attain the aim of education by the establishment of such institutions as libraries, museums, and citizens’ public halls, etc., by the utilization of school institutions, and by other appropriate methods.

It is appropriate to continue to regulate that social education should be encouraged by the state and local public bodies.
In light of the importance of improving learning opportunities, it is appropriate to regulate the efforts by the state and local public bodies to promote social education.
 Collaboration/cooperation of schools, homes, and communities
 
It is appropriate to regulate that collaboration/cooperation of schools, homes, and communities is important in realizing educational purpose.

 Knowledge necessary to be an active builder of the nation and society
  Article 8 (Political education) The political knowledge necessary for intelligent citizenship shall be valued in education.
(2) The school prescribed by law shall refrain from political education or other political activities for or against any specific political party.

It is appropriate to regulate that it is important to foster mind and attitudes to settle national/social issues as active builders of a free and just society.
It is appropriate to continue to regulate the prohibition of political education for specific parties in schools.
 Religious education
  Article 9 (Religious education) The attitude of religious tolerance and the position of religion in social life shall be valued in education.
(2) The school established by the state and local public bodies shall refrain from religious education or their activities for a specified religion.

It is appropriate to adequately regulate the importance to respect an attitude of religious tolerance, knowledge of religion, and the significance of religion.
It is appropriate to continue to regulate the prohibition of specific religious education or conduct of religious activities in schools established by the state and local public bodies.

 Duty of the state and local public bodies
  Article 10 (School administration) Education shall not be subject to improper control, but it shall be directly responsible to the whole people.
(2) School administration shall, on the basis of this realization, aim at the adjustment and establishment of the various conditions required for the pursuit of the aim of education.
  Article 11 (Supplementary rule) In case of necessity appropriate laws shall be enacted to carry the foregoing stipulations into effect.

It is appropriate to continue to regulate that education should not be subject to improper control.
It is appropriate to regulate roles of the state and local public bodies in education based on the proper division of roles between them.
It is appropriate to regulate the grounds for establishing a Basic Promotional Plan for Education.

Chapter 3 Modality of a Basic Promotional Plan for Education

1.The need to establish the Basic Promotional Plan for Education

?? Effective educational reform can only be realized when the reconstruction of the basic concepts and principles of education are coupled with the improvement of the specific educational system and policies. For this reason, the Basic Promotional Plan for Education, the grounds of which lay the Fundamental Law of Education, needs to be established.

?? Specific policies to be incorporated in the Plan will be investigated from an expert standpoint hereafter by the relevant subcommittee of the Central Council for Education and on other occasions. It is expected that the relevant government ministries will cooperate as a whole government to immediately establish the Basic Promotional Plan for Education after the Fundamental Law of Education is amended.

2.Basic points of view on a Basic Promotional Plan for Education

(1) Duration and scope
 
?? It is appropriate that the Plan will cover an approximately five-year period. The scope of the Plan will in principle include items related to education, as well as items needed to promote science, sports, and education on culture and art.

(2) Goal of education in the future and the basic direction of educational reform
 
?? The Basic Promotional Plan for Education needs to clarify the goal of education and basic direction of educational reform to accomplish educational goals.

(3) Establishment of policy goals and integration, systemization, and prioritization of policy 
 
?? The Plan needs to clarify specific political goals that are comprehensible for the people and seek to integrate, systemize, and prioritize the policy.
  (Example of efforts to develop educational conditions to be stipulated in the Plan)
Foster “Academic Ability”
Ensure sound education environments
Ensure equal opportunities for education
Promote education and research of private schools
Develop sound environments for preschool education
(Example of potential policy goals)
Implement a national scholarship test and seek to improve the Courses of Study based on the evaluation of the test.
Aim to halve the amount of bullying and school violence within five years.
Promote improved physical fitness with goals to shift child physical fitness and athletic ability to a rising trend
Aim for the global average standard in English abilities based on objective indices such as the TOEFL.
Be stricter on student grades to prevent easy graduation.

(4) Necessary items to establish and promote the Plan 
 
?? Education is indispensable for happiness and richness of each individual in their lifetime, and at the same time it constructs the existential foundation of Japan. It is essential to steadily promote policies determined in the Plan, to seek to improve the quality of investment in education, to increase and enhance investment effectiveness.

?? Decentralization and regulatory reform in education should further be promoted. National and local governments must mutually collaborate/cooperate upon clarification of policy for which each of them bear responsibility. In addition, consideration needs to be paid to the proper division of role between the public and private entities and their collaboration and cooperation.

?? It is necessary to implement periodic policy assessments, and reflect appropriately the result of such assessments into the review of the Plan and next new Plan. In addition, the assessment results need to be proactively disclosed to the public.

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